Learn how one incredible rescue dog changed a little boy’s life – and how you can help change the lives of other animals in need.

Johnny was born with severe Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy. He cannot breathe on his own, cannot eat by mouth, and has no control over his extremities. Up until a few months ago, Johnny could only communicate with facial expressions. He must be flat on his back most of the time, which limits his quality of life.

Seeking companionship for their son, Johnny’s parents decided to visit a local animal rescue. At Golden Beginnings Golden Retriever Rescue, they met a young Golden Retriever who was nurtured back to health after being found severely underweight and neglected. They adopted her on the spot.

Upon arriving to her new home, Lexi charged into the house to explore. The energetic rescue dog ran into Johnny’s room nearly busting with excitement. But when she found Johnny in his bed, she switched gears. She gingerly stepped onto his bed and laid down beside him, instinctively placing her head on his shoulder. Just like that, she was a caretaker.

Johnny’s life has completely changed since Lexi became a part of their family. She brings him happiness only a dog can offer, and gives him something to look forward to every single day. The two bonded instantly, and today they share a mutual understanding for one another, founded on unconditional love. Lexi also offers Johnny the comfort and confidence he needs to socialize with other kids his age.

Johnny still endures painful therapy sessions every day. According to his parents, the only way he makes it through without crying is by petting Lexi. Resting his hand on her fur helps him relax and makes the process much less painful. To encourage Johnny’s participation and engagement, his occupational, physical and speech therapists have all incorporated Lexi into his therapy routines.

Johnny and Lexi’s adoption story was one of the 2016 winners of the annual Petco Foundation Holiday Wishes campaign. As a result, Golden Beginnings Golden Retriever Rescue received a $25,000 grant.

This year, the Holiday Wishes campaign will award another $750,000 to animal welfare organizations dedicated to bringing together people and pets. To submit your story or donate, please visit: https://www.petcofoundation.org/holiday-wishes/

The deadline to apply is September 30.

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